The idea of Pakistan was first mooted by Punjabi poet-politician Mohammad Iqbal in the year 1930. Three years later a
group of Indian students in Cambridge proposed naming it Pakistan. The Muslim League under the leadership of Mohammad Ali Jinnah declared its support for the idea in 1940. In 1947 the state of Pakistan comprising the Muslim majority areas of East Bengal, West Punjab, Bahawalpur, Sindh, Balochistan and North West Frontier Province came into being.
The foundation of Pakistan was based on the premise that the “idea” of Pakistan would translate into the “state” of Pakistan. The intention was to build a model Muslim state that would have at its core the values of Islamic brotherhood and simultaneously grow through an engagement with the rational thought processes emanating from the West. Science and technology and democratic governance were to be the cornerstones of this new model Muslim state. For a variety of reasons, the “idea” of Pakistan could not find expression in the reality of Pakistan.
Stephen Cohen in his popular work “The Idea of Pakistan” has identified the failure on the part of Pakistan “to live up to expectations” as the first in a list of failures of Pakistan. The fact remains that what the existing Pakistan manifests is the reality that Pakistanis themselves as well as the rest of the world have to deal and live with. What after all is this reality? How does it differ from the idea of Pakistan? One may identify major characteristics of the “idea” of Pakistan and see how these translated into the reality of Pakistan.
The first of these was the concept of universal Muslim brotherhood. In this regard, Pakistan soon after its formation, failed a large chunk of its Muslim brethren residing in East Pakistan now Bangladesh. What happened there is now well documented in the annals of history. But what is less known is that soon after the Bangladesh debacle, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto ordered the ruthless suppression of a protest movement in Balochistan as well. Pakistan’s step-motherly treatment towards its minority Shia community is also well known. It was one such macabre act that earned a young Brigadier Pervez Musharraf the sobriquet of “Butcher of Baltistan”. The Muslim’s who moved from India to Pakistan in search of a Muslim homeland, at the time of Independence, continue to regard themselves as displaced “Mohajirs” even six decades after the event. It is perhaps to balance out such excesses perpetrated on its own people that Pakistan has always been very vocal as far as the fate of Muslims residing outside its borders is concerned. It’s dalliance with the Taliban and the Al-Qaeda and its overt support to the separatist elements in Kashmir is a prim
e example. Now whether these actions are a part of sympathy for brethren of a faith or fed by some more mercenary ulterior motive is another matter altogether. The very recent handing over of supposed “Azaad” Kashmir territory to the Chinese by Pakistan is a clear signal of Pakistan’s designs were the valley of Kashmir, to go over to Pakistan at any future date. It is colonisation and not emancipation that is the objective of Pakistan as far as Kashmir is concerned.
So far as the engagement with science, technology and western rational thought is concerned the report is equally dismal. The only areas visible where science and technology have been deployed are those dealing with the development of nuclear and missile technology. These too have not seen any peacetime application. Rational thought has been destroyed within the stranglehold of radicalised Islam visible in the proliferation of Taliban-run madrassas. Pakistan instead of moving ahead with the rest of the world is retreating into the “Dark Ages”.
Democracy has an uncanny link with education and rational thinking. The principles of democracy are grounded in rational thought that propounds the equality and liberty of all human kind. With the negation of rational thought in Pakistan, democracy too suffered a similar fate. Pakistan has languished under four military regimes interspersed with civil governments that can at best be termed as apologies for democracy. A lack of far-sighted and charismatic statesmen has often remained the bane of Pakistani politics. Pakistani leadership frequently “get away with murder”. Zardari’s financial misdemeanours are old news while Yousuf Raza Gilani, it is reported hasn’t paid his taxes in the last two years. After all what kind of moral high ground can such leaders maintain?
Today Pakistan is at a stage where it has had to barter away its territory to seek the strategic support of a more powerful hawkish neighbour; it remains constantly under fire from “big brother” United States of America for its failure to pull up its socks; it is deeply embroiled in a fiscal mess out of which it can find no way out; it lacks the ability to deal with even a single major flood situation; it lacks the ability to provide food shelter and clothing to its people; in essence it is in more ways than one: “a failed state”.
The Kashmiri voice for Azaadi can be to an extent understood as a misguided and emotionally charged ideological aspiration. However, the desire to separate from India and join up with Pakistan for which Syed Ali Shah Geelani has stopped the education of the young generation completely defies rationale thinking and logic. It can only be hoped that good sense will prevail sooner than later.